Taranto Discusses Feminism and Struggles of Women of Color

Photo by Nicole Williams

On Tuesday the Women's Center held an event where Stacie Taranto, assistant professor of history, discussed the first and second feminist waves. Her talk combated the belief that feminism is all about man-hating.

With over 20 people in attendance, Taranto explained the history and the struggles of the first and second waves of feminism.

“Feminism is, unfortunately, a controversial topic for many people because they see it as 'anti-men' and against the family, even though that's far from the truth,” said Joanna Sadej. “But luckily there are people out there who are interested in learning more about the gender issues and the history behind them.”

The first wave started in the late 19th century and developed into the early 20th century, and those in the movement were mainly concerned with gaining women the right to vote.

The second wave of feminism, which started in the early 1960s, consisted of working women in unions. The women in these unions pushed for change and equality. Their work resulted in the establishment of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which was created so that working women and housewives could fight for equal opportunities as men. NOW encouraged men to join the movement as well. One of the primary leaders of the second wave was author Betty Friedan, the writer of “The Feminine Mystique.” Some of the movement’s earliest victories included the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which applied to women in federal jobs. 

Taranto explained all of this in her talk, as well as other movements in feminism, some of which include multiracial feminism, also known as "Double Jeopardy." Double Jeopardy referred to women of color who had to face the struggles of being a woman who barely had rights and being a person of color who had little to no rights as well.

Some of these feminist movements have made huge impacts on society today, but there is room for progress.

“I thought Dr. Taranto's presentation provided students with a good understanding of how the larger social and political historical context shaped the movements for women's rights; in addition she effectively demonstrated the apparent gains that women made at various historical junctures,” said Assistant Professor of Sociology Paul Reck about Taranto’s presentation.

At the end of Taranto’s talk, a student from the audience asked Taranto if she thinks human equality will ever exist. Taranto responded, “I hope so, it looks like it's getting better. We need to work on the hearts and minds and the structure of society, but we’re getting there.”